The Christian Science Monitor says that the most famous promoter of birtherism – the assertion that Barack Obama wasn’t really born in the United States and therefore is ineligible to be president – faces a growing backlash from those who see the whole birther movement as an “insidious new form of 21st-century racism,” as Clarence B. Jones, scholar in residence at Stanford University, put it the other day on Huffington Post.
Birtherism is nothing more than thinly veiled racisim (well, maybe not so thinly veiled). They are a group of people who simply cannot face seeing an African American in the White House. They haven't the courage, or maybe too cagey (I cannot bring myself to use the word smart), to revert to the argot of the Klan of the last century. In 1960, they would have put up billboards saying things like "We don't serve niggers in the White House." I know these people.
Shortly after my discharge in 1952, I was hired as a cop by the Anaheim Police Department. From that day forward, most of my friends were cops. I love cops. They are the best people in the world except for their attitudes about blacks; pure irrational hatred for the most part and they were part of a huge percentage of the population. I still wasn’t very political but I became more vocal in defending them when the civil rights movement developed. We had some heated discussions in the station house and in the local watering holes.
After the civil rights bill was passed the schools and neighborhoods were gradually integrated, people got to know them, made friends with them, played ball with them and married them. Racism, at least as it existed before, phased out and those who were unable to make the adjustment were outnumbered and learned that if they were too vociferous, they would be isolated. But their hatred continued to simmer down deep.
But we have entered into a new phase. We learned to accept our next door neighbor being black, the mixed marriages, seeing a black doctor and, in the south, letting them ride in the front of the bus. We grew to love, even worship in a sense, the black athletes who play on “our” teams. Most of us, at least more than 50% of us are even ready to have a black President; but not all.
The thin veneer of decency and tolerance of a relatively small group of our citizenry has been overcome by their reemerging and now un-controlled hatred. These people have taken over the Republican Party and have become irrationally vocal. You saw them at the Town Hall meetings where they completely blocked any dialogue.
They have kept their racism and hatred below the surface for the past thirty years or so because blatant racism became unpopular. Now the election of an African American president has brought it back to the surface. They are so blind with rage, they no longer care what decent people think. They have retreated into their own ideological commune; unfortunately, they have pulled the bulk or a large share of the once honorable republican party along with them. Of course there has always been the animosity between the right and the left that had nothing to do with race. But the re-emergence of racism has intensified that as well. Politics has become ugly and has to a large extent grown to define friendships. I can remember when you were more likely to get into a shouting match over whether your Ford was better than his Chevy than over who was running for president.
An example of this hatred can be seen in the opposition to Obama’s programs – particularly health care reform. Of course rational opposition to the health care reform that has just become law can exist. But there has been no rational debate. The opposition, aware that the status quo is not defendable, at least as it relates to the vast majority of Americans who don’t own insurance companies or who earn less than $250,000 per year, have resorted to mendacity, pure lies on the extreme, and distortion as a minimum. The opposition has been fueled by hatred not logic and has resulted in the so called Tea Party. They are a potpourri of opposition and hatred. The most visible thread of commonality is their hatred of Obama. And now this thread has become a rope with the willingness of the republican presidential candidate to go to bed with them and the rope is pulling in billions of dollars from those like the Koch brothers - thanks to Citizens United.
Look for the most vitriolic and fact starved campaign in the nation's history!